An IDF soldier voting in the Israeli election in January
An IDF soldier voting in the Israeli election in January. Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
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The first polls to open for Tuesday’s nationwide local elections will be on Israel Navy bases in Ashdod and Haifa, where sailors and officer trainees will be able to cast their votes from 8 A.M. Sunday morning. Additional polling places will open Monday for the thousands of soldiers serving along the northern border, in the Golan Heights and on Israel Defense Forces bases in the West Bank and in the Southern Command.

Some 50 polling places will open for troops before Tuesday. On Tuesday, about 700 more polls will open for those in the military, 500 of them on bases and the remainder on vehicles, as mobile polls.

IDF members who are home on Tuesday may vote at their places of residence. In contrast to the Knesset election, in which IDF personnel chose from ballots printed with the parties’ names, in the municipal elections they will find separate piles of white and yellow ballots, on which they must write the party of their choice for city council members and the name of their choice for mayor. IDF officials said the intention was to ensure that the elections are fair and democratic, and that all the personal and party names will be provided on written material at the ballot box.

Voter turnout among soldiers was high in the January Knesset election, with 85 percent voting. Local elections typically have much lower numbers; in the last municipal elections, in 2008, only around 40 percent of soldiers voted.

Dozens of soldiers and career officers are running in Tuesday’s election, mainly for their local councils. Col. Avi Baruch, who heads the IDF’s voting headquarters, confirmed that some of the 20 or so career officers who are candidates may be running in order to obtain a discharge, since by law the army must discharge anyone running for office.